Black in the Middle

Edited by Terrion L. Williamson

Black Americans have been among the hardest hit by the rapid deindustrialization and accompanying economic decline that have become so synonymous with the Midwest. Since the 2016 election, many traditional media outlets have renewed attention on the conditions of “Middle America,” but the national discourse continues to focus on the white working class and marginalize the Black people who live there.

Black in the Middle brings the voices of Black Midwesterners front and center. Filled with compelling personal narratives, thought-provoking art, and searing commentaries, this anthology explores the various meanings and experiences of blackness. Bringing together people from major metropolitan centers like Detroit and Chicago as well as smaller cities and rural areas where the lives of Black residents have too often gone unacknowledged, this collection is a much-needed corrective to the narrative of the region.

Contributors: Leslie Barlow, Joe Boyle, Gabrielle Civil, Tara L. Conley, Beverly Cottman, Curtis L. Crisler, Nia Easley, Lyndsey Ellis, Aaron K. Foley, Tanisha C. Ford, Kisha Nicole Foster, brian g. gilmore, Devon Ginn, Janice N. Harrington, Zenzele Isoke, Michelle S. Johnson, Ezekiel Joubert III, Kidiocus King-Carroll, Jamaal May, Phyllis May-Machunda, Edward M. Miggins, Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, Alexandra Nicome, Njaimeh Njie, Mikael Chukwuma Owunna, Mary Pattillo, Courtney Wise Randolph, Deva Rashed-Boone, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Mark V. Reynolds, Terrence Shambley, Jr., Wylliam Smith, Melissa N. Stuckey, Zuggie Tate, Vanessa Taylor, Rachel Elise Thomas, DeMar Walker, Kim-Marie Walker, David Weathersby, Jordan Weber, Terrion L. Williamson, Tamara Winfrey-Harris, Jeffrey C. Wray, Kevin Young, Yvonne

With a foreword by Jamala Rogers

Terrion L. Williamson is an associate professor of African American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota and the director of the Black Midwest Initiative. A native of Peoria, she is author of Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life. She lives in Minneapolis.

Praise for Black in the Middle:

"Timely and evocative.... By calling forth the full range of the Black Midwestern experience, this bracing anthology offers crucial insights into why the region is the epicenter of current protests against police brutality and racial injustice."—Publishers Weekly

"[A] timely, compelling collection that allows predominantly Black Midwesterners to reclaim their home, histories, and future."—Jen Cox, Chicago Review of Books

"Williamson’s affectionate tour of Flyover Country is ambitious and eclectic, with African American humanity on display....Though esoteric, 'Black in the Middle' has a consistent through-line: Where there are African Americans, there is creativity, joy, sorrow and a sense of place; nowhere becomes somewhere. There are Black roots in the Midwest, sometimes hard to see, watered with blood, sweat and bitter tears."Joseph P. Williams, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"The honesty in the essays, the emergency in the poetry, and the intensity of the photographs and paintings help to sharpen the edge of what it means to be Black in the middle of anything, which is the sum of our fears and the hope that manifests itself in our dreams. “Black in the Middle” reminded me of a home imagined and of a home realized as someone who grew up in the Midwest."Jason Vasser-Elong, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

September 1, 2020 | ISBN: 9781948742696 | AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES | PAPERBACK | 6 X 9 | 256 PAGES


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